BEN: Sayid, there’s still time.
SAYID: Not for me.
Here’s how abc.com explained last night’s episode: Sayid faces a difficult decision; Claire sends a warning to the temple inhabitants. I gotta say, this one through me for a loop. Assuming that Season 6 is still following the character progression from Season 1, this was supposed to be a Sun episode. Also, her name’s practically in the title, so that seemed like a hint.
On the show, Sun and Jin have been apart for three years, and other than the flash-sideways episodes this season (unhappy again), we haven’t seen them together since Season 4. I mean, come on, Eileen – Jin hasn’t even seen his daughter yet. In the early going, I would get impatient with the Kwon-centric episodes; their pre-island life didn’t fit into the interconnected histories that were revealed for everyone else.
Now, I’ve grown to appreciate the Kwon episodes. Their relationship is more emotionally resonant than the Kate-Jack-Sawyer triangle or the tentative Claire-Charlie romance (remember that?) and has provided a nice anchor for the show. Also, Daniel Dae Kim and Yunjin Kim are terrific actors, so it’s a treat when they get a showcase…
So with my expectations up, I was initially disappointed when it turned out to be a Sayid episode. Don’t misunderstand – I’m a fan of everybody’s favorite Iraqi torturer and breaker of hearts – I’d just built myself up for something else.
My disappointment didn’t last long; Sundown is probably the strongest episode of the season so far. Sayid’s always been a walking contradiction – behind the soulful eyes is a man who is capable of astonishingly brutal acts of violence. Last night’s episode tackled the central question at the core of the character – Is he a good man who has done terrible things, or is brutality simply in his nature?
This week’s flash-sideways had Sayid in Los Angeles visiting his brother Omar and his family. The good news here is that Nadia’s alive. The bad news is that she’s married to Omar.
Even in an alternate reality, Sayid is still tormented by guilt as a result of his past as a torturer in the Iraqi Republican Guard. It is that guilt that led him to push Nadia away and toward his brother.
Meanwhile, Omar has gotten in deep with loan sharks, and asks for Sayid’s help in dealing with them. Sayid refuses, citing his desire to put his violent past behind him. It is until his brother is beaten up and Sayid is abducted that a reckoning comes.
The loan shark turns out to be Kemey, formerly the leader of the Freighter Commandos in Season 4. After some attempts at intimidation by Kemey, Sayid turns the tables on him, killing Kemey’s henchman. Kemey tries to squirm out of it, but Sayid kills him anyway.
A darkness is growing in him, indeed.
This is the first week that the flash-sideways sequences have really paid off in the events on the Island. At the temple, Sayid confronts Dogen about the test he’d undergone a couple of episodes back. According to Dogen, the torture device was a scale for measuring good and evil, and Sayid came up evil. Then they beat the crap out of each other for awhile.
The rest of the time on the Island finds Sayid being alternately manipulated by Dogen and faux- Locke. Destiny versus free will is one of the big themes on LOST, and they pretty squarely let it play out with Sayid last night.
After Dogen tells Sayid that he is evil and would be better off dead, Sayid agrees to go out into the jungle to kill faux-Locke as a way of proving his nobility. When he fails, faux-Locke convinces Sayid that Dogen was setting him up to die, and then quickly sets about recruiting him.
Dogen does a lot of talking in this episode – about his own past as a banker, and about faux-Locke. Dogen characterizes faux-Locke as “Evil Incarnate”, which seems a little on the nose for a show that traffics in ambiguity the way LOST does. Faux-Locke may be Jacob’s polar opposite, but pure good versus pure evil – I just don’t see it.
Faux-Locke makes some kind of deal with Sayid and then sends him back to the temple. Sayid tells everyone gathered there that they can go with faux-Locke and leave the island – that they’re free now that Jacob is gone. Faux-Locke’s need and desire for followers is a little unclear at this point, especially once he goes all smoky and massacres most of the Temple inhabitants. At the end of the episode, Jack, Hurley, Ben, Ilana, Frank, Sun, and Richard seem to be the only ones on the Island left to stand in his way, unless the other Ajira 316 passengers come back into play.
While this episode doesn’t definitively answer whether Sayid is an evil man by nature, he certainly embraces his dark side by the end of the episode, killing Dogen and Lennon before he joins faux-Locke and the surviving Others outside the temple. The episode ended with one of the series’ most haunting images, as Sayid strides through a courtyard filled with flames and corpses, a creepy recording of Claire’s favorite lullaby playing on the soundtrack.
- Looking around the Internet, I seem to be alone in thinking that Christian Shephard is distinct from faux-Locke. I hope this is a case where I’m right and everyone else is wrong, because it’s more interesting if I’m right.
- Another thought from last week – Alternate Jack’s Alternate son is named David. Dave was the name of Hurley’s imaginary friend and Libby’s dead husband. Relevant, or are they just running out of names?
- Why didn’t the smoke monster make friends with Rousseau back in the day? Is it worth trying to retcon something about that now? Also, any chance we’ll see Rousseau and Alex off-island?
- After faux-Locke implies that he can bring back Nadia if Sayid delivers his message, there’s an immediate flash-sideways. Is that what alternate 2004 is – a parallel pocket universe created by faux-Locke for his followers?
- Interesting to see Jin in Kemey’s meat locker. I thought the whole Paik-family-organized-crime thread was going to be left dangling, but it looks like they’ll try and address it here.
- “I’m not the one that needs to be rescued, Kate.” Kate has sort of stumbled into faux-Locke’s crew – now’s the time for Claire to follow through on her promise to kill Kate, right?
- I enjoy bedroom farce on the stage – you know, characters coming and going and just missing each other, but how much longer do we have to wait for the Jin-Sun reunion?
- I’m glad Miles was able to escape with Ilana’s team. I was worried that they were going to kill him off after giving him nothing to do all season.
- Did they really just tell us that Ben is going to die next week in the teaser? ‘Cuz I mean, um, hello? Suspense?